Can you believe we have been presenting our Annual Dealer Survey for 35 years?
It’s an amazing accomplishment, especially considering that our founder Frank Cannata conducted the Survey for the first 30 years without any help. I have only been involved for the past five years. Honestly, it is a monumental task. The hardest part is encouraging dealers to take part. During the past two years, participation has been slow initially, but picked up at a brisk pace during the last six weeks before our deadline, resulting in Surveys with the most respondents ever.
We thought the pandemic would negatively impact participation. Wrong! Although we did not exceed the number of participants in our 2019 Survey (344), we came close in 2020—342.
For those of you who participated in this year’s Survey, thank you very much!
This Survey and our 2021 Survey could be two of our most interesting ever. That’s because this year represents the calm before the COVID storm. It reflects respondents’ 2019 financial performance, which was excellent. Next year, we expect to see a radical change because of the economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
This was not the angle we were angling for when the year began. Still, it will be interesting to compare this Survey with next year’s, and then monitor the changes over the next few years to see how rapidly—or not—the dealer channel recovers.
This issue also contains additional dealer-related content that complements the Survey, including a feature on preparing your dealership for sale. Acquisitions will likely accelerate post-pandemic as some dealers decide rebuilding a business is not an option for them at this stage of their careers. I’m sure dealers large and small are salivating at the prospects of some of these potential acquisitions, provided they still have the financial resources to acquire after this year.
We also have articles celebrating Centric Business Systems’ 30th anniversary and a look at how Impact Networking is growing its marketing services business, a diversification strategy not employed by many dealers. Read the article and judge for yourself if it’s an opportunity that fits in with your customer base.
Finally, this month’s dealer tour takes us to Charlotte, North Carolina, for a visit with Jason Habbal of Vision Office Systems. He has a fascinating story to tell.
Now, on with the Survey.
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